MADRID - Real Madrid will be without
joint La Liga top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo for Sunday's trip to
Racing Santander after he damaged a leg muscle in Thursday's 7-0
drubbing of Malaga.
The Portuguese forward ended a four-match goal drought with
a hat-trick at the Bernabeu but had to leave the pitch with just
over 10 minutes remaining, reducing Real to 10 men as they had
used all three substitutes.
Jose Mourinho's side were already seven goals ahead and
their biggest win of the season cut Barcelona's lead at the top
back to seven points with 26 matches played after Lionel Messi
had given the champions a 1-0 win at Valencia on Wednesday.
"It's better not to take risks. I don't think I'll be
available for Sunday's match," Ronaldo, who is level with
Argentina forward Messi at the top of the La Liga scoring chart
on 27 goals, told reporters after the match.
Real said on Friday that a scan had confirmed the injury and
Ronaldo would be sidelined for 10-15 days.
The 26-year-old could also miss the La Liga game at home to
Hercules on March 12 and the Champions League last-16, second
leg against Olympique Lyon four days later.
Sunday's game at Racing's Sardinero stadium is a
chance for the club's new Indian owner Ahsan Ali Syed to see at
first hand how his team fares against one of La Liga's two
Ali Syed, the chairman of investment company Western Gulf
Advisory who became Racing's majority shareholder at the end of
January, told Reuters last month he aims to make the club a
"third force" in Spain alongside Real and Barca, who host
struggling Real Zaragoza on Saturday.
Racing, in 12th on 30 points, five above the relegation
places, are undefeated in six matches since his arrival.
New coach Marcelino Garcia, who replaced the sacked Miguel
Angel Portugal on February 9, appears to be more focused for the
time being on securing their place in the top flight than
challenging the world's two richest clubs.
"A win would be an important step, not a definitive one, to
make sure of our survival," he told a news conference on
"The match will be tough, although thanks to the points we
already have it will be more important for them.
"Their need could be a virtue but the longer the match goes
on the more anxious they might get and that could help us."
Third-placed Valencia, who are 13 points behind Real, play
at Real Mallorca on Saturday, while Villarreal, a point
back in fourth, are at eighth-placed Atletico Madrid in
Saturday's late kick-off.
Barca coach Pep Guardiola may not be able to attend
Saturday's match against Zaragoza after suffering a painful
spinal disc hernia.
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